Why War? My Life's Walk

From Autognomics
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Why War? My Life's Walk

Norm Hirst

Some of you have been asking about the history of my research. And given today's preoccupation with war and what war does to people, causing major turns in human history, I feel compelled to share my war story, and how it caused me to dedicate my life to finding the reasons for war. My years of investigation are now beginning to produce the findings that we are bringing to you in each issue in this column with a book now in progress. It began 60 years ago. I began to dig and dig deeply into what we believe about reality, about science, about fundamental structures that have continuously formed a war-filled world.

We have just returned from delivering a paper at a Values Conference. I was thrilled to learn that a major point of our message was received and acknowledged. Our paper was received with a degree of enthusiasm I never expected. One of the participants has now sent us email in which he wrote:

“Being originally trained as a scientist, I’m specially impressed by your distinction between causality, as THE explanatory tool in the natural sciences, and the concept of fluidity or process you presented to us as the explanatory tool in the human sciences, the distinction stemming from acknowledging man’s free will... Otherwise we would only be deterministic objects, and not the (unique and most valuable) subjects that, thankfully, we are.”

Now I want to write about our message. To properly ground it I will begin at the beginning.

It was 1951. The Korean War was in progress. General MacArthur had missed his promise to have the boys home for Christmas. I was in the Air Force and in Korea. My job was to maintain airborne radar. I was told to pack up and be ready to fly out. The fighting had come within 200 miles of us. If it came any closer I was to be out of there. As it happened it never came closer.

I found myself in an unusual position. I was to have a ringside seat to the war; far enough away to be relatively safe yet close enough to witness the war. What I witnessed was horrifying. I was not prepared to see human beings inflict such pain, suffering, death and destruction on other human beings. I defended us on the grounds that it was our moral duty to snatch success from an evil enemy. Never would we engage in such acts if an evil enemy had not forced us to.

Finally my enlistment was up! I went home. I applied to MIT and was accepted as a full time student. Because of my radar background I also had a part time job maintaining components of an unusual computer. One day I found a spontaneous party going on in the computer room. They told me they had finished running tests of a new weapon system. It exceeded their expectations. I thought, “They are celebrating a better way to kill people… They are celebrating a better way to kill people… They are celebrating a better way to kill people… They are celebrating a better way to kill people." That thought went on for two and a half days, around and around.

Then after lunch I was walking by the athletic field going back to work. I suddenly got an electric shock in the back of my neck. I could feel the electricity go up into my head and down my spine. I thought of two armies of little boys approaching each other with toy guns. In moments they would learn that they were no longer little boys; the guns were not toys. Then I remembered the parades I had seen with flags waving and soldiers marching. Then in a moment, all the values I had grown up with died. The values that justified our acts in the Korean War were gone. I was left feeling like a zombie. I had to begin to question everything at the most fundamental levels to rebuild my world. I dedicated my life to finding the causes of war and preventing war. I was soon to realize that it depended on better understanding of values, but I did not know how.

For the next semester Robert Hartman arrived; a visiting professor of philosophy whose specialty was creating a science of value. From my physics training I knew what science is. I learned Hartman thought the same about science. Science combines the analytic theories of empirical philosophy with the synthetic theories of a formalism such as mathematics. Without the formal component there is no science, just a form of philosophy. Hartman became my teacher, friend and mentor for many years.

Unfortunately, today, the nature of science has been totally lost. I've learned that today’s philosophy has lost the analytic and synthetic, an unfortunate regression. The practice of science has been thoroughly corrupted by greedy sponsors who suppress scientists from speaking truth. I hate to mention science; but we do need to restore real science to provide help for us now in confusing times.

Learning and unlearning through many disciplines of my inquiry:

I studied physics gaining experience with an actual science. I studied the philosophy of science to help me understand science in general. I studied mathematics to understand the driving force behind scientific inquiry. I studied the theory of logic to understand the limitations of mathematics. I discovered the limitations of logic itself. I then studied the most modern theory of formalisms and discovered that logic, as we know it, is simply one amongst many possibilities for doing meaningful formalisms. What people today believe is rational is simply one choice. Believing that philosophy itself was a way of exploration I turned to it. Mainstream substance philosophy offered a worldview, a metaphysics that further entrapped us. Way down deep human knowledge developed in a way that became committed to errors that destroy life.

My fifty-year search found more useful knowledge, but I kept learning that what was accepted, as foundations of our sciences, didn't support the living domain. I concluded that values were only operative in living processes. Thus I considered biology. It became apparent to me that biology had tried to become scientific by adopting the protocols of physics. These conformed to materialism, cause and effect, and reductionism. I believed that biology would provide no answers.

In one developing area I found great promise. At the end of the 19th Century there were crises in the foundations of mathematics. This I saw as very significant; yet I suspect that very few people have heard about it. This led to more research in logic in the 20th Century than all previous human history. I found the results electrifying. There are now forms of logic that do not require consistency; at least not truth consistency. I saw truth consistency as a catastrophic error. Life is creative. It does not conserve truth. Life requires both poles of categorical contrasts. Life works on self-knowing by self-reference. Consistency blocks self reference. Given the importance of self-knowing we named our Institute “Autognomics” for auto gnosis, i.e., self knowledge.

I had found an unbridgeable lacuna between mathematics and the logic required to understand life. Physics can no longer be considered the basic science.

Beginning in the 70’s I began to see new disciplines such as autopoiesis, the theory of self-creation and astounding discoveries in both physics and biophysics. Physicists discovered the Dirac Sea consisting of zero point energy that fills what had been thought of as empty space. In 1992 the biophysicist, Dr. Mae Wan Ho, discovered that living tissue is liquid crystalline. Our bodies are an electro-magnetic environment that supports oneness of action. It may appear that our bodies consist of organs as parts, but functionally there are no parts. Our bodies function holistically. There are whole organism diseases that defy current medical models.

All this totally changes our beliefs about reality, and now a paradigm change is underway and documented by The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). IONS has just published a report documenting the change, the 2007 Shift Report. Their web site summarizes the report as follows:

“The 2007 Shift Report: Evidence of a World Transforming, attempts to chart the transition we believe is underway from a rigid, mechanistic, and materialistic worldview to one that is built on a foundation of interconnectedness, cooperation, and the intersection of science and spirituality.”

Reviewing the growing catalog of unsolvable problems facing us today, it appears that all of the problems are based on errors of the old paradigm. I will write about them in future reports. For now, know that life requires every living entity to be autonomous. Every living entity can only do what it has learned through inner processes. Also, every living entity is unique and equipped to insist on fulfilling its unique meaning. Thwarted it will turn to coping dysfunction and possible violence.

Life cannot be controlled. Unfortunately force and control is all that we know from the old paradigm. There has been no room for understanding values beyond thinking of them as Sunday-School virtues. In the new paradigm conscious awareness of value processes become essential to the way living entities choose their acts and assert their will. Since, as yet, we do not have sufficient understanding of the role of value processes we think force makes sense. Politicians stand up and promise to be tough. This is just futile posturing because under the heading “tough” there is nothing they can do that doesn’t exacerbate the problem they are trying to solve. I would reject such politicians.

To give such an example, the United States has the largest percentage of its population in prison. It also has the toughest sentencing. We found that a contributing factor to the growth of the prison population was an increase in recidivism after imposing tougher sentences. That seems paradoxical. One might think tougher sentencing would cut down recidivism. By understanding how living entities function and that life cannot be controlled may explain why tougher sentencing increases recidivism.

Life requires coherence laws, not control.

I think legislators should know that laws that attempt to control will fail and will make things worse. In life, coherence laws are required. Coherence laws maximize freedom. An example of a coherence law is driving on the right hand side of the road. It works so well it rarely ever needs enforcement. Another example is the right to privacy. When governments spy on citizens there are people who say they don’t care because they have nothing to hide. That is not the issue. The issue is privacy. We all have different life styles. We don’t need to be in each other’s face all the time. Coherence laws are what enable life to work miraculously. Our founding fathers, in writing the Constitution, knew this. To not defend the Constitution is to sacrifice the coherence conditions desperately required. Life free to produce miracles will solve the unsolvable problems we face. It is life itself that produces evolution.

Where life cannot find ways to fulfill itself, results will be abhorrent, unhealthy work-arounds. If subverted long enough, violence is inevitable. Life will not be controlled by any degree of force. War serves only to make a few people rich.